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Friday, June 11, 2010

The A-Team (2010)

Overall verdict: 7.5/10

The Good: Never-before-seen action sequences that defy expectations, commendable casting, witty humor, incredible character chemistry, extremely true to the original, well developed themes of trust and camaraderie.

The Bad: choppy camerawork, overly complex conspiracy plot, retains the flaws of the original show (convenient plot twists, "A-team firing", formulaic story), poor use of CGI.

Remakes are big business in Hollywood these days. Disregarding horror movies, classic TV series have had their fair share of remakes ranging from great to terrible. Mission impossible, S.W.A.T, Starsky and Hutch, Miami Vice, the list goes on. "The A-Team" is based on a popular 1980s TV series famous for its over-the-top cartoon-like violence, formulaic episodes, memorable characters and "Mister T". Barring the mandatory re-setting of the film in present day instead of the 80s, the creative team manages to craft a remake that remains extremely true to its roots. Instead of following the trend and going for a more realistic, gritty feel with a darker storyline, A-Team shamelessly embraces the over-the-top nature of its source material, cheesy flaws and all.

Eight years after a fateful (and explosive) mission in Mexico united four unlikely Army Rangers,
the "crack commando unit" led by Colonel Hannibal Smith(Liam Nesson) and stationed in Iraq are sent on one final mission by CIA agent "Lynch"(Patrick Wilson) into the heart of Baghdad to retrieve a set of stolen money printing plates that are a threat to national security. Hannibal and his team, comprising of suave con-man "Faceman" Peck, burly B. A Baracus and comically insane "Howling Mad" Murdock, succeed in their mission. However, upon returning to base, their superior officer General Morrison is seemingly killed in an explosion, along with all evidence of the team's mission. The team, in the wrong place at the wrong time, are charged with "a crime they did not commit", dishonorably discharged and sent to separate prisons. Six months later, agent "Lynch" meets with Hannibal Smith and offers him a chance to escape, break his teammates out of their respective holding facilities, and attempt to clear their name by tracking down a mercenary named "Pike"(Brian Bloom) whom Hannibal had a bitter history with.

What follows is one of the most spectacular jail breaks in the history of modern cinema culminating with our heroes in a free falling tank taking on two sub-sonic combat UAVs in mid air. Now, still wanted by the government, and pursued by Faceman's former flame, Captain Charisa Sousa (Jessica Biel)this team of four must uncover a secret conspiracy involving the printing plates. A conspiracy that originates from within the CIA itself.

Though slightly convoluted, "The A-Team" highlights every single aspect that made the original TV series such fun to watch. For starters, the characters are marked by very distinct personalities complete with their own individual quirks such as Baracus's intense fear of flying. The A-team members themselves are an extremely likable bunch, with impeccable chemistry. Their witty banter, peppered with familiar one liners, is the highlight here particularly Sharlto Copley stealing the show as the loony Murdock. Helped along by spot on performances from a perfectly cast set of actors, the movie totally sells its theme of trust and camaraderie among the most unlikely of allies. Another improvement over the original series is that the main characters are given more depth, such as Baracus's crisis of conscience and Hannibal's disillusion at being betrayed by a country he fought so hard to protect.

But just before the film gets bogged down by drama, another spectacular action sequence is throw in, and followed by another, never allowing the adrenaline pumping pace to let up. The near unintentionally funny, but thoroughly epic opening sequence in Mexico sets the tone for the entire movie that follows; ridiculous, over the top and absolutely awesome. Audiences would thrill to see how each member of the team brings their unique set of skills to a mission in order to make a plan "come together".

The one thing A-Team suffers from is its camerawork, Extreme close-up shots are used once too often during frantic combat scenes making the action a little difficult to follow. Also, A number of the bigger set pieces were rendered in CGI that seem to clash with the scenes of real practical special effects.

But that being said, "The A-Team" might be one of the most entertaining summer blockbusters to come by; lots of action with a sharp sense of humor, just like the original show. It captures the sense of fun and enjoyment that seemed to have been all but forgotten amidst the many recent movies going for the "darker and edgier" feel. Those expecting a realistic rendition of the campy 80s TV series would be sorely disappointed as 2010's "The A-Team" manages to take every single element of the original and ups the ante on them. For a film that banks solely on its action, characters and comedy, it succeeds at every turn.

***********Review End*********

Go For it: if you loved the original TV series and or would like an entertaining high octane action flick with a sense of humor.
Avoid it: if you never did like the original TV series or if you prefer more serious action movies.

Entertainment: A

Story: B-
Acting: A

Characters: A
Music: B
Replay value: A-
"Brains": C-

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